When my neighbor, Lisa, a young woman with two children, told her father, on the phone, that she didn’t WANT him to pick her up for her CAT scan, I felt an unexpected lump in my throat. My father would have done the same thing. Oh G-d, how I miss that. After a few minutes Lisa decided to let him pick her up and I was glad, “let him do this for you, it will make him happy” I said. I quickly entered my house with tears stinging my eyes.
I expect the holiday season as a frame for us to mourn family members and friends who have died. I was not prepared for this. This was unexpected and it hit me harder because I didn’t see it coming. Isn’t that always the case? I prepare myself for the holidays from November through January but it’s always what you don’t expect to happen that throws you off-balance and hurts the most.
When my father was alive and healthy, years ago, nothing would have stopped him from helping his two daughters, at any time, day or night. Lisa’s situation brought those old memories back, piercing my heart, draining it. I remembered the time I was terrified of the sounds of the mice running in my walls and a couple that ran over my toes in my studio apartment and he picked me up to “take me home.” Or the one time in college when I had no idea about money and bounced a check (I did what?) and he resolved it and explained it to me. My dad made everything better; he was always on my side. I pray I said “Thank you” I pray I said, “I love you Dad.” I hope I did.
My father died on New Year’s Eve, ten year’s ago, my whole family is aware of that date. I was not at all prepared for the random comment with my neighbor and it struck me so deeply. How lucky she was to be so young, to have young kids and young parents. I was looking back in time; this was me twenty years ago, this was me before we moved to New York, with two healthy parents and two young children.
You have no idea how fast time flies by. I didn’t know either. It flashes by so unexpectedly, the toddler whose hand you were holding to cross the street is in his second year of college; the baby girl you longed for after him is in her first year of college, far away. Two children, two completely different personalities; the mystery of motherhood finally solved for me.
“What did you do to make my sister and me so different?” I would ask my mother over and over again. It didn’t make sense. The same parents, the same setting, the same upbringing, what happened? We were so different, I needed to know. My mother would laugh and say “Nothing” and I didn’t believe her; I felt like she was holding out on a secret. That was, until I had two children, 21 months apart, completely different from one another and I knew, my mom had been right all along. We did nothing differently, they came out of the womb their own person. What they did have in common were that both were separate, perfect, miracles and yes, (hear that kids?) we love them exactly the same.